In this article, we will not discuss any technology behind Starlink, 5G, or Satellite internet. As a user, we don’t care or need to know how those works. We only care about the results, for example, a faster internet. Here, we will compare Starlink, Satellite internet, and 5G from a user’s perspective and how they benefit us.
Starlink Is Better Than Satellite Internet:
Regular satellite internet is slow and expensive. It loses its connectivity many times a day. It’s because the satellites are in the Geostationary orbit, which is more than 35,000 km or 22,000 miles above the earth. Because of this long distance, it takes a long time for the signal to reach the ground. That’s why satellite internet is slow.
Most of the satellite internet provider operates a few geostationary satellites. No one except SpaceX makes and flies their satellite. Typically, a satellite internet provider orders a satellite manufacturer — for example, Northrop Grumman — to make a satellite. Then, the provider pays another company to fly its satellite to a Geostationary orbit. This whole process not only time-consuming but also expensive.
Moreover, a satellite does not last forever. Typically a satellite has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. So, a provider needs to replace its satellite every 15 years or so. That’s why satellite internet provider charges a lot of money for their internet service.
However, Starlink’s internet is cheap. Cheaper than broadband in many localities. It’s because Starlink makes its satellite. It also uses SpaceX’s rocket to fly its satellite. Starlink is a SpaceX company. So, from satellite manufacturing to flying, it’s an in house process at Starlink. This way, they save a lot of money and passing the savings on to the customers. This is the reason why Starlink’s internet is cheap.
Starlink internet is faster than the traditional satellite internet. It’s because Starlink’s satellite is orbiting the earth at 300 to 1100 km above the earth. Far lower than Geostationary satellite. As we mentioned earlier, geostationary satellite orbits earth at 35,000 km. So, Starlink internet signal travels a very short distance. It is why the latency on Starlink internet is in the range of 20ms, competitive to broadband internet. There’s no way other satellite companies can beat this speed. It is why Starlink internet is faster compared to another Satellite internet.
Starlink internet needs a pizza size receiver terminal. The receiver terminal has a motor and gimbal mechanism. The terminal communicates with the Starlink satellite and reorients itself for optimal satellite signals by itself. So, the setup process is easy and straightforward. Unbox the receiver and install the receiver facing towards the sky. As long as it can see the sky, it will provide superfast internet. The setup process of a traditional satellite internet receiver terminal is not easy for an average user. Only technicians can install a conventional internet satellite receiver.
A conventional satellite internet company operates only a handful of satellites. So, their bandwidth is very limited. On the other hand, Starlink has thousands of satellites. That’s why it has a higher bandwidth in the Gigabit range.
It is clear from the above discussion is that the Starlink is far superior to satellite internet. So, small cities, towns, villages, and rural areas will benefit from Starlink.
Starlink Is Better Than 5G internet:
Can we compare the Starlink internet with 5G? The answer depends on the usage.
5G is not a replacement for satellite internet. Only major cities can get a great benefit from 5G. Moreover, upgrading the current cellular infrastructure to 5G is costly. In the USA, more than 200 billion dollars is necessary to upgrade the existing cellular infrastructure. On the other hand, to deploy and maintain the Starlink constellation, only 10 billion dollars is needed. Compared to 5G, a 5% investment can cover the whole world with high-speed broadband internet.
Moreover, 5G is not that revolutionary. Yes, it can provide high-speed internet, but to get that speed, you need to have a line of sight to the cell tower, which is not practical. If there is no line of sight, your internet speed will slow down, nullifying all the benefits of 5G.
It is common knowledge that phone providers have little interest in providing 5G to small cities, towns, and rural areas. These companies will not be able to recoup their investment. It is also valid for developing countries. So, it does not matter how much hype is there; 5G is not going to roll over rapidly. Moreover, it won’t be cheap. But, Starlink is a worldwide service. Anyone anywhere can get this high-speed internet service at a low price.
The 5G mmWave can’t travel far. It can’t even penetrate hand. So, the benefit of 5G is very minimal. Other frequencies in 5G can go far, but the speed benefit is insignificant, only 20% faster than 4G.
Many argue that Starlink too needs a line of sight to the sky to get the internet. So, it won’t be that popular in cities. Because cities have high rise buildings, and it will obstruct the line of sight. Unfortunately, this argument is not valid.
First, Except NYC and LA, most of the cities are not that crowded. Starlink is for residential customers mainly. So, except downtown, everywhere, the residential area has a clear sky. Moreover, if you look closely at any high rise apartment buildings, you would see some DishTV or DirecTV satellite receiver. It proves that even in crowded cities, installing a Starlink receiver is straightforward.
For a home internet service, you have a few choices: Cable, DSL, Satellite internet, or 5G (5G modem).
From our experience, cellular and satellite internet is very expensive compared to cable and DSL. 5G service is not available in most of the cities and towns. It does not work outside cellphone coverage. So, 5G is an impractical choice for ships, boats, airplanes, camping, and rural areas. Furthermore, the DSL and satellite internet is very slow.
In your area, if you have cable such as spectrum, compare the monthly subscription price with Starlink. If the price is economical and the internet speed is higher than Starlink internet speed, keep your current internet provider. Otherwise, it would be best if you switched to the Starlink internet.
Starlink Is Better Than Google’s Internet:
Google has been working for a long time to provide cheap internet to rural areas throughout the world. Their main idea is to fly necessary hardware on a weather balloon and beam internet from the sky. They have been experimenting with that technology for a long time. However, Google has not seen any success with their project. We doubt they ever will.
The weather balloon seems easy, but it’s not. In order to beam the internet to a specific area, The balloon needs to be over that area all the time. The upper atmosphere has a lot of wind. So, it tries to dislodge the weather balloon all the time. Google has not found any viable solution to this problem yet.
Moreover, weather balloon hardware deteriorates rapidly. So, it is very expensive to maintain those balloon hardware.
Starlink satellites don’t face these problems. Even if google balloon internet project becomes successful, you should buy the Starlink internet. It is reliable, cheap, and fast.
Google also has a Fi internet project. But it is very expensive compared to current mobile or cable internet.
In summary, Starlink is better than traditional satellite internet, 5G, and DSL, and Google Internet. Depending on locality, it is also better than cable internet.